This was actually said to me today whilst I was chatting to somebody about being featured in the Yorkshire Post about my new face to face events for female introverts in business.
"But introverts don't do business do they, aren't they too quiet?"
Wow. I was pretty stunned as this came from a business owner I respect, but who obviously didn't have a clue about what introversion even means. The next comment was indeed "so can men be introverted?'. Oh dear.
It feels like there is a long way to go to educate people on what introversion actually is all about.
The day before I was told that introverts are the worst listeners because they are too busy listening to themselves. WTF. Listening is my superpower and is what makes me a great coach to hear others on a different level, and not only hear the words, but also hear what lies beneath them as well. It takes the concept of listening to another level.
But as I push forward on my mission to prove female introverts need to stop hiding because they have more than enough to be amazing at making real differences to others lives, I will definitely be up against more misconceptions for sure! I mean I get told time and time again that I can't be an introvert because of my presence on social media. Say what?
So I wanted to start by saying that introverts do business and do it really well.
And if you still need convincing you only need to look at the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett and what about the ladies... Rosa Parks, JK Rowling, Emma Watson and Marissa Mayer.
It is also important to understand why you should get to know your own personality traits and how empowering that can be. Lots of people tell me not to label as they are not useful. I have spent most of my career trying my best not to label others and put them into boxes - however something happens when your own level of self awareness increases - you get your power back.
You start to recognise your strengths and skills that you just took for granted because you've always had them, they are a part of you.
And actually these should be explored, developed and celebrated.
I am not naive to think there isn't a darker side.
Getting to know yourself means you could fall into the trap of using your introverted personality as an excuse not to do all the things that feel uncomfortable to you or zap all of your energy. When actually to build your business you need to consider how you will make it work for you. After all business is about identifying the things you think you can't and doing them anyway.
I know this from first hand experience of pushing my team to do the things I didn't want to do. Things like selling, presenting, networking, making new connections, making phone calls, pitching, promoting and all that stuff, you get the picture.
But I learnt quite quickly that nobody can sell my business like I can.
I have the passion and that can't be replicated. And you can't be either.
For too long business has been focused on the more extrovert personalities - and we have all been led to believe that this is what makes a business successful and that we have to be more 'extroverted' to win. So much so, that it often puts off introverts from starting a business in the first place.
These are outdated, misleading conclusions derived from personality tests produced decades ago.
I have experienced that the opposite is quite often more of a truer picture. That introverts can use their super powers to be amazing at selling, presenting and promoting themselves and their business. To avoid the fluffy crap that is often associated with pushy or cheesy sales, or drawn out boring presentations, and actually make real business connections in networking that will go somewhere.
So the next time you hear that introverts are too quiet or shy to be good at business, or even if you are telling yourself that - please remind them (and you) that in your face, intense energy, loud voices, small talk and big ego's don't always win the race.
You have all you need to start and that's the most important part.
Never underestimate the power of an introvert's silence.
It doesn't indicate nothing is happening. It indicates everything is happening.
And you can't even see it, yet.
**Gemma Stow works with female entrepreneurs who are introverts and are ready to take themselves and their business to the next level. To find their fierce and take that all important action. As well as private coaching, she runs a membership called Club Fierce that gives that personal touch to women who are looking for support, accountability and an environment that breeds self belief and results. More info HERE. **